By Michael Buckley
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Published: May 5, 2015
Sixteen-year-old Lyric Walker’s life is forever changed when she witnesses the arrival of 30,000 Alpha, a five-nation race of ocean-dwelling warriors, on her beach in Coney Island. The world’s initial wonder and awe over the Alpha quickly turns ugly and paranoid and violent, and Lyric’s small town transforms into a military zone with humans on one side and Alpha on the other. When Lyric is recruited to help the crown prince, a boy named Fathom, assimilate, she begins to fall for him. But their love is a dangerous one, and there are forces on both sides working to keep them apart. Only, what if the Alpha are not actually the enemy? What if they are in fact humanity’s only hope of survival? Because the real enemy is coming. And it’s more terrifying than anything the world has ever seen.
Action, suspense, and romance whirlpool dangerously in this cinematic saga, a blend of District 9 andThe Outsiders.
Riveting, action-filled, suspenseful. Though Undertow is labelled for teens, I really think it will hold the attention of all ages. I was thoroughly engaged by the writing of Michael Buckley and his tale of the arrival of 30,000 Alpha on the beach in Coney Island.
The government, unsure of what these Alpha want, war or peace, zone the area off keeping the 5 different races of the Alpha and the remaining human residents of Coney Island walled inside. Then in an experiment to integrate them into the school system a few of the Alpha, including the Prince are brought to the local high school despite vehement protest of the human population.
Undertow is action-packed and filled with twists and turns. I particularly liked the character of Lyric Walker. Her growth throughout the novel from a person who tries to be as invisible as possible to someone of a much stronger personality was done very successfully.
There were many themes running through Undertow that spoke of politics, racism, bullying and segregation. Family, loyalty, child and spousal abuse and love were also aspects that were part of this novel. To touch on so many themes successfully in one book takes a great amount of skill, and I think that Michael Buckley has done that. In fact, there was so much in this novel that I wouldn’t be surprised to see it used in school classrooms as part of their literature programs. It’s a cornucopia of information set in an end-of-days scenario against an enemy that is nothing like we have ever seen before. I can easily see this book being made into a movie as it is full of action and vivid detail.
Undertow is the first book in a trilogy and it will certainly leave you wanting more, but you’ll have to wait until the spring of 2016 to satisfy that desire when Raging Sea will be released.
While there was some profanity in this novel, it was not excessive. I found this novel to be completely engaging, and it kept me up late into the night. I would highly recommend it to readers of all ages who enjoy thrillers, science fiction and dystopian genres. I gave Undertow 5 stars out of 5. I will be watching for the sequel.
Thank you to the publishers for providing a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. A positive opinion was not required. All thoughts are my own.
About the Author:
New York Times bestselling author Michael Buckley was born in Akron, Ohio. He tried his hand as a stand-up comic and lead singer for a punk rock back before attending Ohio University. After graduating with honors he moved to New York City to be an intern on the Late Show with David Letterman which led to stints developing programming for Discovery Networks, MTV, MTV Animation and Klasky Csupo (producers of Nickelodeon’s Rugrats). Today he lives in Brooklyn, New York with his wife, Alison, and their son Finn.